I hadn’t planned on posting another entry so soon. But I had a few personal thoughts about Lent and figured I would go ahead and share…
Lent is here. This church season doesn’t exactly usher itself in with excitement like the Christmas season, does it? No one is decking the halls 40 days before Easter (as much as Target would like us to). The beginning of the Christmas season (Advent) is filled with lots of merry, hot chocolate and anticipation of a joyful holiday season. Not sure about you, but I haven’t gotten any beautiful Lent cards with families posed on the beach. Perhaps that’s because during Lent, our faith experiences the lowest of lows before we celebrate the highest of highs on Easter Sunday. Our God, in the flesh, had to die a painful and humiliating death on the cross before He triumphantly rose from the dead three days later. But, just like Advent and the Christmas season, Lent is also an important season of anticipation. Instead of anticipating the miraculous birth of Christ, we are anticipating the even more shocking and miraculous resurrection of Christ.
During Lent, we are encouraged to spend time reflecting on God and searching out those areas of needed repentance. After all, a risen Christ is a bit more meaningful when you can put your finger on a few solid reasons you need His forgiveness. It’s a tradition during Lent ‘to give something up’. I say tradition because you won’t find any red letters in the Bible with Jesus telling us to give something up for Lent. As a matter of fact, there isn’t anything in the Bible telling us to give something up for Lent. But, in my humble opinion, there’s nothing wrong with human tradition if it brings us closer to God. I look at the practice of giving something up in two different ways, neither of which has the point of deprivation in itself.
The first reason I would understand giving something up for Lent is to experience a bit more ‘want’ in our lives. When I run out of a certain product at the grocery store, I just go buy more. I realize that I am incredibly blessed to not have to experience much ‘want’. Perhaps by giving up chocolate, for instance, for the 40 days of Lent, one can experience want and desire in a new way. And eating the ears off that chocolate bunny on Easter Sunday is all the sweeter as you celebrate and relish in the life of abundance that Christ offers us.
The second reason (and my preferred motivation) to consider giving something up for Lent has nothing to do with deprivation either. Instead, I like the idea of making more room for God. Yes, we can certainly benefit from this practice year-round. But, by giving something up for Lent that takes up time or emotional energy, I can make more room for God in my day. Or perhaps giving something up might allow space and time to take on a new spiritual discipline like daily prayer or spending time in scripture. For instance, giving up social media might alleviate a good bit of time in one’s day for contemplation and prayer. Each time I think about checking Facebook, I could, instead, spend an extra moment enjoying being in the presence of God, examining myself, or maybe even praying for guidance as to how I can better love and serve those around me. Luckily, Sunday is a day of rest and feasting (a so-called free day in Lent), so I could still check my Facebook to see if anyone has posted a good Justin Timberlake video or potty trained their child.
Anyone who has ever stayed in our guest bedroom knows that because of the multitude of windows, the light shines bright way too early in the morning. In addition, our most recent guest commented that the abundance of natural light shows a few too many imperfections as she looks in the mirror. I will tell you that any one else only sees her beautiful face. But it made me think…Jesus is the Light. Perhaps by letting in a little more Light each day during the 40 days of Lent, I will find a few (or a lot) more imperfections. But on Easter Sunday, I will, no doubt, be beautiful in God’s eyes. Perhaps the warm sunlight in March and April will be my reminder that, metaphorically speaking, I’m going to deck the halls of my soul with His Light over the next 40 days of Lent.